Some of our fans want more details, but find that parsing through a 10-page piece of legislation isn’t really their cup of tea. So here are the basic details of HB96. It has three parts:
Part 1: Allow breweries and brewpubs to participate in entertainment districts
This is not expected to be a controversial issue, but this part clarifies that craft brewer licensees (which we define later) and brewpub licensees can participate in entertainment districts.
Part 2: Allow brewpubs to sell growlers
Alabama has a separate brewpub license that is held by breweries such as Cheaha Brewing Co and Railyard Brewing Co. The brewpub license has special privileges such as being able to sell other alcohol at their location. It also has special restrictions such as a 10,000 barrel production cap and a prohibition on packaging in cans or bottles.
A brewpub licensee can sell customers a pint, but the current law does not allow them to sell beer to take home. HB96 would change this and allow a brewpub licensee to sell its beer for customers to take home.
Part 3: Create a craft brewers license that can sell growlers
Currently, every brewery in Alabama that doesn’t have a brewpub license has a generic manufacturer’s license. This is a one-size-fits-all license for small breweries, large breweries, wineries, and distilleries. This is the license that most breweries in Alabama have, including Fairhope Brewing Co, Good People Brewing Co, and Straight to Ale. Manufacturer licensees can have tasting rooms and sell customers a pint, but they cannot sell customers beer to take home.
HB96 would create new license, called a Craft Brewers License, for small breweries that produce less than 2 million barrels of beer a year – the federal definition of a small brewer for tax purposes. In addition to a production restriction of 2 million barrels, breweries with a craft brewers license would be given the special privilege of being able to sell beer for customers to take home.
Why is it so complicated?
Why make a completely new license? Why is there a separate brewpub license? Why do you need to clarify that craft breweries and brewpubs can participate in entertainment districts? Why is there some language about restaurants in the craft brewers license?
Alcohol laws are complicated unfortunately. There are a lot of stakeholders, and we’re trying (1) to be crystal clear in the legislative intent of this bill for those stakeholders, and (2) to address the legitimate concerns of those stakeholders. HB96 is the product of several years, countless meetings, and thousands of dollars in billable hours. And there will be more changes, meetings, and attorney fees before its over (but hopefully not more years).
If you are a craft beer fan, you are a stakeholder too. You can always contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We hope you follow our progress on this website, our social media, and our email list.